AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB Video Card Review

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Lowering The Target Temperature on the R9 290X

The AMD Radeon R9 290X might run a bit hot and loud for some people, so what happens if we lower the target GPU temperature?


 If you recall the AMD Radeon R9 290X in quiet mode has a target GPU temperature of 95C and a maximum fan speed of 40%.  We wanted to see what would happen if we lowered the target GPU temperature while gaming, so we used Alt + Tab and went into CCC to lower the target temperature.


 We dropped the target temperature down to just 65C to see what would happen and that was the only setting that we changed in AMD OverDrive.  The temperature was at 94C in the game, but was gradually dropping (86C in the shot above) when we were tabbed out of the game.


Here is a shot of what happened when we applied the new Target GPU temperature in the middle of a game title. Notice the core clock speed immediately throttled back as did the voltages, but the fan speed ramped up to nearly 70 percent.  The maximum fan speed was set to 40%, but it appears that doesn’t really matter as the GPU temperature target takes priority. Maybe once the GPU temperature reaches 65C, the fan will spin down to something quieter as this was topping 70dB on our sound meter.


After a few minutes the Radeon R9 290X was playing Battlefield 3 at just 64C, but notice the core clock was stilling running around 727 MHz, which is much lower than it would be with a GPU temperature target of 95C. Notice that fan speed settled down and was running at 46 percent, so much for a maximum of 40 percent right? So, we successfully lowered the operating temperature down to 65C, but the fan needed to spin faster and the card got louder and ran slower. Not sure that is exactly what we were going after, but let’s take a look at what happened to the game performance.


  Radeon R9 290X Radeon R9 290X Percent Difference
Temperature Target 95C 65C  
Bioshock Infinite      
2560×1600 82.12 68.96 -16.0%
1920×1080 131.62 109.57 -16.8%
Tomb Raider      
2560×1600 79.4 64.9  -18.3%
1920×1080 137.9 111.6  -19.1%
 Hitman Absolution      
 2560×1600  34.3  30.4  -11.4%
 1920×1080  54.5  46.6  -14.5%
 3DMark Fire Strike  9,727  9,092  -6.5%


As you can see our real world game performance dropped on average 16% and our 3DMark score dropped by nearly 7% by lowering the GPU Target Temperature 30C. We like being able to adjust the temperature of the card, but you’ll be giving up performance and increasing the fan noise. Not too sure how many people are buying a $549 video card and would be looking to do something like this.  Of course you can do this at any temperature setting between 50 to 95C, so the warmer you go you’ll see less of a performance hit. WE picked 65C as many of the AMD Radeon R9 280X video card that we recently reviewed were running below 70C at full gaming load.

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